244 THE GAY GENIUS graphy, the critics completely ignore the meaning of the words, and treat it essentially as an abstract composition. It is abstract painting in the sense that, unlike painting in general, it does not try to portray any recognisable object. Chinese characters are composed of lines and combinations of lines put together in an infinite variety of ways, and art requires that these characters be put together beautifully in them- selves, and in relation to other characters on the same line or page^ As the Chinese characters are composed of the most complex elements, they present all the problems of composition, including axis, contour, organisation, contrast, balance, proportion, and above all, a central unifying conception of the whole. All problems of art are problems of rhythm, whether in painting, sculpture, or music. As long as beauty is movement, every art form has an implied rhythm. Even in architecture, a Gothic cathedral aspires, a bridge spans, and a prison broods. ^Esthetically, it is possible even to speak of the "dash" and "sweep" and "ruggedness" of a man's moral character, which are all concepts of rhythm. The basic concept of rhythm in Chinese art is established by calligraphy. When a Chinese critic admires calligraphy, he does not admire it for its static propor- tions or symmetry, but rather follows the artist mentally in his move- ment from the beginning of a character to the end and so o<n to the end of the page, as if he were watching a dance on paper. The approach to this type of abstract painting is therefore different from that of Western abstract painting. Its fundamental thesis is that beauty is movement; and it is this basic concept of rhythm which develops into a guiding principle of Chinese painting. ^ This conception of rhythmic beauty in movement ^ changes all the artist's concepts of line, mass, surface, composition, and material. For if beauty is dynamic and not static, all even, straight lines and surfaces, resembling engineers* blue-prints, are ruled out, and instead one must seek, for instance, the twisted and uneven lines of a tree branch, for only bending and twisting can suggest life and movement. One can easily see the life and movement of such uneven lines where the sensi- tive pressures, pauses and sweeps, and accidental splashes of the brush are carefully and purposefully preserved. It may be stated as a funda- mental principle of Chinese painting and calligraphy that straight, even lines are abhorred and strictly taboo, except in case of necessi^ as when one is sketching the outline of a desk or table. The very con? cept of composition is changed, too. A Chinese artist cannot be satisfied with merely the static arrangement and contrasting of lines and sur- faces, so long as those lines and surfaces are dead in themselves. From here on begins the emphasis on vital lines, which accounts for the difference between Chinese painting technique and other forms of the same art.